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Read Across Lawrence for Adults 2015

Join us for Read Across Lawrence 2015 in the month of February!  In 2015, the Read Across Lawrence book will be The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.

Read Across Lawrence is an annual community-wide event where the library invites everyone in Lawrence to read the same book at the same time and then come together at a variety of events to talk about it.

About The Handmaid’s Tale

handmaid's tale book coverIn the world of the near future, who will control women’s bodies? Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are only valued if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the days before, when she lived and made love with her husband Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now…. Funny, unexpected, horrifying, and altogether convincing, The Handmaid’s Tale is at once scathing satire, dire warning, and tour de force.


About Margaret Atwood

margaret atwoodMargaret Atwood was born in 1939 in Ottawa, and grew up in northern Ontario and Quebec, and in Toronto. She received her undergraduate degree from Victoria College at the University of Toronto and her master’s degree from Radcliffe College.

Margaret Atwood is the author of more than forty volumes of poetry, children’s literature, fiction, and non-fiction, but is best known for her novels, which include The Edible Woman (1969), The Handmaid’s Tale (1985), The Robber Bride (1994), Alias Grace (1996), and The Blind Assassin, which won the prestigious Booker Prize in 2000. Her latest work is a book of short stories called Stone Mattress: Nine Tales (2014). Her newest novel, MaddAddam (2013)is the final volume in a three-book series that began with the Man-Booker prize-nominated Oryx and Crake (2003) and continued with The Year of the Flood (2009). The Tent (mini-fictions) and Moral Disorder (short fiction) both appeared in 2006. Her most recent volume of poetry, The Door, was published in 2007. In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imaginationa collection of non-fiction essays appeared in 2011. Her non-fiction book, Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth was adapted for the screen in 2012. Ms. Atwood’s work has been published in more than forty languages, including Farsi, Japanese, Turkish, Finnish, Korean, Icelandic and Estonian.  (from


“How do I get a copy of the book?”

There’s no special sign-up to participate in Read Across Lawrence. Just grab a copy, start reading, and show up at activities – it’s that easy!  Here are a few ways to get a copy of The Handmaid’s Tale:

  • Find us around downtown at the January Final Fridays on Jan. 30 from 6:00 to 8:00pm – we’ll be passing out books at several art stop locations
  • Come to the library and get a copy from the Welcome Desk after Jan. 30, while supplies last.
  • Check-out or reserve a copy from Lawrence Public Library.
  • Team up with somebody else who has a copy and share.  Enjoy talking about it afterward!



Yarn Bomb Installation
Sunday, January 25, 12:00-4:00pm
Lawrence Public Library Grounds + Around Lawrence

Join us as we yarn bomb the Lawrence Public Library, parts of KU’s campus, and even downtown! Grab free spools of red yarn at the library starting mid-January, thanks to the generosity of Yarn Barn. In case of inclement weather, we’ll reschedule to January 31. Find all the details and how to participate here.


Final Friday Book Mob
Friday, January 30, 6:00pm
Downtown Lawrence

Our librarians will be at multiple Final Fridays locations passing out this year’s Read Across Lawrence selection, The Handmaid’s Tale. See some great art and get a fantastic book!


An Evening with Margaret Atwood
Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?: The Arts, The Sciences, The Humanities, the Inhumanities, and the Non-Humanities. Zombies Thrown In Extra.

Monday, February 2, 7:00pm
Kansas Union Ballroom

Thanks to the support of the Kenneth A. Spencer Lecture Fund, The KU Commons is pleased to host Margaret Atwood. She is the author of more than thirty volumes of poetry, children’s literature, fiction, and non-fiction including The Edible Woman, The Handmaid’s Tale, The Robber Bride, Alias Grace, The Blind Assassin, Oryx and Crake, and The Year of the Flood. Her work has been published in more than 40 languages. Atwood is the recipient of numerous international literary awards, including the Booker Prize.


Feminism Through the Decades
Thursday, February 5, 7:00pm
The Commons at KU – Spooner Hall

Join us for a panel conversation about the challenges women from different generations have faced.


The Handmaid’s Tale Book Discussion with Dr. Marta Caminero-Santangelo
Sunday February 8, 2:00pm
Library Auditorium

Join us for a casual conversation about the themes and elements presented in the book and how they still resonate 30 years after the book’s publication.


Nerd Nite
Wednesday, February 11, 8:00pm
Pachamama’s Alton Ballroom

What is Nerd Nite? It’s like the Discovery Channel…with beer! Stay tuned for 3 talks revolving around Atwood’s book.


Dole Institute of Politics 2015 Presidential Lecture Series

We are thrilled to partner with the Dole Institute for our Read Across Lawrence events. Their upcoming 2015 Presidential Lecture series “The First Woman President 2.0″ continues the discussion of women and leadership, in looking at public service and beyond.

Part I: An Evening with Kathleen Sebelius
Thursday, February 12, 7:30pm
Dole Institute of Politics

Kathleen Sebelius, former Kansas governor and secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, will be interviewed about her journey in public service from her days in Kansas politics to her presidential appointment in Washington as well as the challenges she faced in her two pivotal executive roles.

The Handmaid’s Tale Screening
Sunday, February 15, 1:00pm
Spencer Museum Auditorium

Watch the film version of Atwood’s book starring Natasha Richardson, Faye Dunaway, Robert Duvall, and Elizabeth McGovern.


Dole Institute of Politics 2015 Presidential Lecture Series
Part II: The New Paradigm for Women’s Political Success
with Adrienne Kimmell
Tuesday, February 17, 7:30pm
Dole Institute of Politics

Adrienne Kimmell, executive director of the nonpartisan Barbara Lee Family Foundation, joins us to look at how research is helping women candidates utilize advantages unique to their gender to tailor ads, speeches and messaging into successful campaigns. From personal traits to actions that convey qualification and likability to recovery from mistakes, this program will look at what it takes for women to seek and win elective office.

The Handmaid’s Tale Speed Scrabble Tournament
Wednesday, February 18, 7:00pm
Library Auditorium

We’ll host a clandestine tournament of speed scrabble. The winner will receive a gorgeous Folio Society Edition of the Handmaid’s Tale.


The Handmaid’s Tale Book Discussion with Leslie Von Holten
Saturday, February 21, 3:00pm
Decade Coffee

We’ll have a lively discussion about feminism, dystopia, and the power of reading. Our moderator is Leslie Von Holten, director of programs for the Kansas Humanities Council. She has degrees in English literature, art history, and public administration.


Dole Institute of Politics 2015 Presidential Lecture Series
Part III: Women Legislative Leaders
Tuesday, February 24, 7:30pm
Dole Institute of Politics

Barbara Ballard, Dole Institute associate director state representative, will moderate this discussion on leadership, time pressures and what it takes to successfully lead on the local, state and federal levels. Come hear more about confronting and overcoming hurdles – be they political, personal or social – from those working in the legislative arena.

Art Musings on The Handmaid’s Tale
Wednesday, February 25, 7:00pm
Spencer Museum of Art

Guided tour followed by refreshments. Join us for a Read Across Lawrence book discussion against the backdrop of works of art at the Spencer Museum. The discussion begins with a tour of the galleries and explores artistic interpretations that complement the themes in the novel. Led by Spencer Museum and Lawrence Public Library staff, the conversation continues over complimentary refreshments. Free parking is available in Lot 91 (north of Spencer Museum of Art) after 5:00pm.

Can’t join us on Feb. 25 or have your own book club? BYOBC! Bring Your Own Book Club to the Museum for a guided tour in February or March inspired by The Handmaid’s Tale and reserve a gathering space for further discussion. Contact the Lawrence Public Library or visit the Spencer Museum of Art’s online tour scheduling site at

Community Book Discussion: The Handmaid’s Tale
Thursday, February 26, 3:00pm
Presbyterian Manor

We’ll have a casual conversation about the themes and elements presented in the book and how they still resonate 30 years after the book’s publication.


Community Book Discussion: The Handmaid’s Tale
Friday, February 27, 2:00pm
Pioneer Ridge Assisted Living

We’ll have a casual conversation about the themes and elements presented in the book and how they still resonate 30 years after the book’s publication.


Dole Institute of Politics 2015 Presidential Lecture Series
Part IV: Women’s Leadership on Campus: Discovering the Leader in You

with KU faculty panelists Mary Banwart, Ann Cudd & Alice Lieberman
Wednesday, March 4, 7:30pm
Dole Institute of Politics

Do you communicate confidence, ambition and capability? Panelists from the departments of Communications Studies and Philosophy as well as the School of Social Welfare, along with moderator Barbara Ballard, will be on hand to discuss leadership potential. Topics will explore values, tactics and beliefs, all factors that contribute to becoming the leader you would like to be.


Previous Read Across Lawrence selections:

2014 - Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson

2013 - The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan

2012 - Winter’s Bone by Daniel Woodrell

2011 - To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

2008 - Kansas Curiosities: Quirky Characters, Roadside Oddities, and Other Offbeat Stuff by Pam Grout

2007 - Revolutionary Heart: The Life of Clarina Nichols by Diane Eickhoff

2006 - The Center of Everything by Laura Moriarty

2005 - Blue Horses Rush In: Poems and Stories by Luci Tapahanso

2004 - The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

2003 - Secrets of the Tsil Cafe by Tom Averill

2002 - Not Without Laughter by Langston Hughes

2001 - Having Our Say by Sarah and Elizabeth Delaney